Category Archives: Food

Soil Temperature is more important than calendar date

Soil Temperature is the true key for better and quicker seed germination. Soil Temperature is equally important when your plant seedlings. With the right soil temperature seedlings will quickly send out roots and become well established healthy plants.

To day my soil temperature at 4 inch depth is 48%. Time to plant cool weather loving crops like onions and garlic for fall harvest.

Here is a planting chart with some of the more common garden crops and the best soil temperature to plant.

DIY – Chicken water warming system that really works

It’s a little late this winter, but it is valuable information that will save you lots of time and aggravation and keep your chickens supplied with fresh water even on the coldest days of winter.

DIY – Chicken water warming system Please note the light bulb(s) must be incandescent bulb(s) and not LED or CFL bulbs.
LED and CFL light bulbs produce little or no heat.

After reading this DIY project I believe 100 watt incandescent bulbs will be your best choice.
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Herbs are expensive – Grow your own

Herbs Fresh or Dried purchased from your local Supermarket or Farmers Market are exceeding expensive.

These are sample prices taken from Walmart:
Litehouse Basil Freeze Dried Herbs $15.00 an ounce

McCormick Gourmet Organic Crushed Rosemary, $4.45 an ounce

Litehouse Chives $17.00 an ounce

Litehouse Parsley $14.00 an ounce

McCormick Gourmet Organic Thyme $7.60 an ounce

The best solution is to grow your own Herbs. Herbs take up little space and are very forgiving if neglected.
Most herbs will do well in containers, window boxes and planted directly in your garden soil.
If herbs are conventionally located to you and your kitchen you are more willing and more likely to use them when cooking and serving meals.

Herbs Make Common Foods Taste Special

Sage is a herb that does well if properly cared for. It requires a lot of pinching and cutting to keep it from becoming woody. As a rule, sage will need to be replanted about every 3 years since it will become woody with few leaves no matter what, so keeping it in a pot makes this change that much easier. Sage dries very well and if you pinch the leaves throughout the growing season, put a rubber band on them and keep them dry and in a dark place after drying. You will have wonderful sage all winter to give your family and guest a special treat.

Sage Use leaves flowers fresh or dried with stuffings for fish, poultry, and meat, pâté, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, lamb, pasta, cheeses cheddar, cream, and cottage, sauces brown and meat, soups cream and chowder, beef stews, and vegetables.

Rosemary is always a kitchen favorite. It dries perfectly, holds its strong taste all winter, comes indoors and keeps growing in a sunny window and is rarely bothered by insects.
Use rosemary for many herb standards or topiaries. The woody stem is perfect for crafting. The stem also seconds as skewers so each harvest yields two separate herb crops. 1)leaves and 2)stems.
Keep the stems in a freezer bag and use them for grilling skewers. Rosemary doesn’t like to sit in water it likes to dry out between watering. Being in its own container makes the herb grow that much hardier, since it can receive special care.

Basil is one of the most popular and rewarding herbs to grow in a container. It really lends itself well to the other popular container plants like the tomato. Basil likes to have plenty of water to keep its fleshy stems and tender leaves plump, but is susceptible to mildew. In a container, you must be sure the plant gets plenty of airflow.

Thyme is an undervalued herb. Many times it gets planted and never used. Thyme deserves a higher standing on our list of culinary herbs!
It will thrive in a container environment, needing only minimal watering. Some varieties grow into small shrub like plants that enhance an entrance to your home. It’s tiny purple flowers are lovely. Being such a low maintenance herb, thyme will fit in your container garden.

Mint is notorious for getting away from gardeners. You plant one and soon twenty will follow. Planting a bottomless pot into your garden is one way of controlling mint, but keeping it out of the garden completely, by using a separate container, is a better idea. Mint is so tasty, it will be used more often if it is handy.

Chives Leaves/Flowers Use in fresh or frozen soups, salads, salad dressings, eggs, dips, vegetables, chicken, soft cheese spreads, butters, white sauces, and fish.

English Thyme Use leaves flowers with fresh or dried wild game, beef, soft cheeses, fish, chowders, pâté, vegetables, and tomato sauce.

Tarragon French or Spanish Use leaves fresh or dried with chicken, fish, eggs, tomato juice, butters especially nice on steak, vinegar’s, salads, mustard’s, hollandaise, béarnaise and tartar sauce, soups, chicken, fish, mushroom and tomato and marinades for fish, lamb or pork.

Greek Oregano Use leaves fresh or dried
in white and tomato sauces, stews, soups, fish, lamb, pork, vegetables, butters, and vinegar’s.

Rosemary Use leaves fresh or dried
with beef, lamb, fish, poultry, stuffings, soups, stews, fruit cups, soups chicken, pea, and spinach, vegetables, and marinades.

Hint of the Day: Use fresh herbs blended with ‘real’ butter or sour cream for that special taste. Herb’s go well with fresh baked potato’s, snack dips and fresh garden salads.

Will there be a Lettuce shortage?

U.S. grown Lettuce Farms are planting about 5% to 15% less to prevent food waste after lost sales in 2020.

YUMA, AZ. Farmers across Southwestern Arizona are hard at work harvesting much of the country’s lettuce supply during their busiest time of the year.
Yuma County has the ideal growing conditions, with cool nights and warm days. From November to April, they supply about 90% of the United States and Canada’s supply of romaine and iceberg lettuce.

John Boelts of Desert Premium Farms says the season was just wrapping up when the pandemic hit the U.S. last year when restaurants and schools closed, their sales took a big hit.

Boelts said “There’s no such thing as fast food, it takes us months of preparation, planning to grow these crops.”
Last year, Boelts said their farm suffered a couple hundred thousand dollars in losses from products that weren’t harvested. Because of that, farms around Yuma are planting about 5% to 15% less to prevent food waste.

I’m sure there are many hundreds of small and large farmers and fruit producers suffering due to lost sales when local and state bureaucrats forced the closure of schools, restaurants ans mom and pop cafe’s.

Tomato’s In Your Spring / Summer Garden

TomatoFest website is a good research tool to assist you in choosing the tomato varieties you wish to grow in the 2021 gardening season. TomatoFest advertises that they have available more than 650 different tomato varieties for you to choose from. [See Disclaimer]

TomatoFest Annual Heirloom Tomato Seed Sale – Ends January 18, 2021 Heirloom Tomato’s seed

TomatoFest – Online heirloom tomato seed catalog of more than 650 tomato seed varieties currently offering 325 heirloom tomato varieties on sale now through January 18, 2021.

Dwarf varieties offered to gardeners who are challenged with limited garden space and those who are limited to growing in containers. Dwarf tomato varieties are popular for producing heavy yields on shorter plants.

TomatoFest Cherry Tomato Seed Collection

TomatoFest Short Growing Season Collection

Disclaimer I am not employed nor do I receive any money or free products from TomatoFest company.
I am providing these links as a Research Tool for your convenience.
As with any purchase research and choose your supplier carefully and wisely.

Speaking only for myself, I have had good service and found their products to be as advertised. Producing healthy productive plants.

Quick and Easy Winter Soup

Leek and potato soup:

2 – large leeks
2 – medium potatoes peeled and course chopped
1 – pint stock – or use 1 – stock cube (use the stock you like, beef, chicken or vegetable)
Salt (Taste ‘Before) adding salt, stock often contains salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground white or black pepper
Optional 2 – tablespoons butter
Optional – fresh mushrooms course chopped (thin sliced)

Course slice leeks and sauté them in 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil or melted butter.
Pour in the stock, add the potatoes and mushrooms. Simmer for about 25 minutes.
Soup is ready when the potatoes are soft and tender.
Top off with additional stock if needed.
Optional – Make this into a ‘cream’ soup. Blend in 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of cream. Do not boil.
Serve warm with toasted buttered garlic bread or saltine crackers.

Chili soup:

1 – 15 ounce can Wolf brand chili (with or without beans)
15 – ounces water
1 – Tablespoon chili powder
1 – Tablespoon dried oregano

Optional: 2 – tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Optional: 1 – tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
Optional: 1 or 2 – fine diced fresh hot or mild green or red pepper.
Optional: Fine diced onion to taste.

Heat chili soup to a simmer.

Serve hot topped with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, warm soft flour tortilla’s, corn chips or saltine crackers.
Optional: Serve with a side dipping dish of green or red salsa hot or mild, the kind you like.

Chili pepper consumption could help you live longer

hot-red-pepper Chili pepper report The American Heart Association said “research has suggested that regular chili pepper consumers could have longer lifespans due to the fruit’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer and blood-glucose regulating properties. These factors play a role in reducing a person’s risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease or cancer.

570,000 health records were included in these studies, which included people from the U.S., Italy, China and Iran. The people who ate chili peppers regularly had a 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality; 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality; and 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.

Thanksgiving food safety

Covid-19, government dictated lock-downs and self quarantines, smaller family gatherings has caused turkey growers and markets to have a shortage of smaller (6-10 pound) turkeys.
Shop and buy your turkey soon for your best selection.

This post has become an annual posting in hopes it will help keep you and your family safe. Food handling, thawing times, cooking time / temperatures and safe storing of any thanksgiving day food leftovers.

For some this is old information and is considered plain common sense. For others this will be their first time dealing with such a large bird and safely handling so many side dishes for one meal.
turkey
Butterball Turkey Talk provides a free service to answer your questions about proper handling, thawing and cooking Turkey.
You can reach them by telephone, email or via live chat line.
Butterball also has a informative page of FAQ’s that you may find useful.

Butterball said:
FROZEN WHOLE TURKEY
Thaw in refrigerator (not at room temperature). Place unopened turkey, breast side up, on a tray in refrigerator and follow our refrigerator thawing instructions. Allow at least 24 hours for every 4 pounds.

To thaw more quickly, place unopened turkey breast down in sink filled with cold tap water. Allow 30 minutes per pound. Change water every 30 minutes to keep surface of turkey cold.

When thawed, keep in refrigerator up to 4 days until ready to cook.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) has a nice and very informative fact sheet as well as a useful PDF file on the safe handling, cooking, Storage and re-heating of Turkey.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey USDA’s information applies to any poultry, Turkey, Chicken, Duck, Goose and so on that you may plan on cooking and serving to your family.

For more information about food safety, call: USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or
E-mail: mphotline.fsis@usda.gov Or “Ask Karen,” FSIS’ Web-based automated response system – available 24/7 at http://www.fsis.usda.gov.

Hints:
Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.

Thawing In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days
Roasting Time
4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Alternate methods to cook Turkey / poultry Grilling a Turkey, Covered Gas Grill, Covered Charcoal Grill, Smoking a Turkey, Deep Fat Frying a Turkey.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Basics: Safe Cooking Turkey A PDF file. Great 1 page tip sheet on cooking Turkey / Poultry.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Turkey Roasting Chart Everything you will ever need to know about Roasting your Turkey.
Hint:
Reheating Your Turkey
In the Oven
Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.
Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
To keep the turkey moist, add a little broth or water and cover.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Use this chart and a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum internal temperature.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC 24/7: Saving Lives. Protecting People. Safely Prepare Your Holiday Meal Important cooking information to providing Safe food preparation information.

Not from the U.S.A. Leave a comment telling me about your home town and country

Why is common sense so uncommon?
Don’t be Shy. Leave me your comment(
s)

Garden Fresh Potatoes

North American gardeners grow potatoes that generally fall into 1 of 6 color categories.

University of Minnesota potato growing fact website has a lot of useful information on growing potatoes.

Blue skin with white or blue flesh
Brown skin with white or yellow flesh like
Purple skin with white, yellow or purple flesh
Red skin with white, yellow or red flesh
White skin with white or yellow flesh
Yellow skin with white or yellow flesh

Start your potato plants from tubers or pieces of tubers. Buy disease free seed tubers from a certified grower or seed distributor. Most garden centers carry seed potatoes in the spring.

Potatoes saved from your own garden may not be a good choice either. They can carry disease spores from the previous year. Although your garden may seem disease free, re-introducing more fungi or bacteria could cause crop failure for your potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in the future.

Hint: Do not plant potatoes purchased at the grocery store, they may have been treat with chemicals to keep tubers dormant(prevents sprouting), in which case they will be slow to grow.
Diseases may also infect the potatoes, which can remain in your garden soil for many years. Also they may have been treated with pesticides to kill insects that can damage potatoes that have been placed in storage.

Plant your seed potato sections about 3 inches deep. The depth allows the potatoes to form without breaking the surface and causing green spots on the potatoes. When a tuber is exposed to light for an extended period of time, a poisonous alkaloid is produced that turns the potato green.

Before planting, add a fertilizer with a NPK rating 10-10-5. Mix the fertilizer in with the soil as you till to evenly disperse the fertilizer. If you use an organic fertilizer, such as cow or horse manure, make sure the manure is well-rotted or at least a year old. Fresh manure causes the planting bed to get too “hot” and burns the plants.
Potato seeds prefer a cooler temperature to set roots. The ideal soil temperature for planting seed potatoes is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hill soil up around plants as they grow. Tubers will form on thin stems, called stolons, which emerge from the main stems. The deeper in the soil the underground portion of the plant, the more stolons the plant may grow.

Potatoes are both water loving and heavy feeders of fertilizer. Moisture stress can cause knobby or hollow potatoes, and can prevent the plant from producing new tubers. Light soil is the best for growing large, smooth potatoes. Soak the soil thoroughly when watering, once or twice a week.

You can dig new potatoes about seven to eight weeks after planting. New potatoes will have formed above the seed piece you planted, so dig down about a foot, and turn the whole plant upside down to pick the tubers.
Harvest mature tubers after the plants have dried(look dead) or when tubers have reached full size.

First Thanksgiving Dinner menu

First Thanksgiving Dinner – Smithsonian magazine Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony in 1621. Edward Winslow, an English leader who attended said: Besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison.
In addition to wildfowl and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels.

The forest provided chestnuts, walnuts and beechnuts. They grew flint corn (multicolored Indian corn). They grew beans, which they used from when they were small and green until when they were mature. They also had different sorts of pumpkins and squashes.

England not having turkeys it is likely that the Pilgrims favored swan, geese, ducks over turkey meat. It is also likely that passenger pigeons were on their menu.

Historians think Pilgrims stuffed birds with chunks of onion, herbs and shelled chestnuts. Pilgrims did not have white(Irish) potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, butter or wheat flour to make crusts for pies and tarts.

Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book was a leading voice in establishing Thanksgiving as an annual event. Beginning in 1827, Hale petitioned 13 presidents, the last of whom was Abraham Lincoln. She pitched her idea to President Lincoln as a way to unite the country in the midst of the Civil War, and, in 1863, he made Thanksgiving a national holiday.

As for me and my family, this Thanksgiving we will have a small(10#) slow smoked/cooked turkey, mostly for the smaller members of our clan. Adults will feast on slow cooked/smoked beef brisket, racks of ribs and buckets of BBQ sauce, the mild and hot kind. Of course there will be ample assorted side dishes, ice cream and pie for all.

Post a comment and share your Thanksgiving menu.